The Thoughtful Approach Towards Building a Clamp Collection

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Forum topic by Too_Many_Tools posted 08-16-2014 03:44 PM 16135 views 0 times favorited 45 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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32 posts in 2261 days

08-16-2014 03:44 PM

First post…long time lurker…so be kind. ;<)

I recently have been coming across some really good deals for clamps…of all kinds and brands.

So before I spend lots of money needlessly…educate me as to what and how to buy clamps.

Some questions that come to mind…

How many clamps? (This coming from someone named TooManyTools ;<) )

What types of clamps?

What are GOOD prices for brand name clamps?

When is a good time of the year to buy clamps?

Who are the best sellers to buy from?

How much money do you have invested in YOUR clamp collection?

There are others but this is a good start.

FWIW…I have spent many hours reading posts here and elsewhere on this subject but find that there is surprisiely little mentioned in regards to building a clamp collection…most people seem to buy as needed or when sets come on sale.

Thanks for any advice.

45 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10697 posts in 4529 days

#1 posted 08-16-2014 04:12 PM

Acquiring clamps can take a long time. I’ve generally
acquired the pricier bar clamps in pairs.

Pipe clamps are a good value. I like the 1/2” pipe
clamps because they are light and maneuverable.

I don’t use pipe clamps much anymore because over
the years I’ve expanded my bar clamps. At some
point I stopped buying new bar clamps and just
acquired them used as I found them.

The blue bar clamps from Harbor Freight aren’t
bad. I have a half-dozen of the 6” ones and use
them often for position clamping.

If you’re going to be making doors you’ll be
tempted to acquire parallel jaw clamps. I have
old Bessey K-Bodies. They’re great, but
they are heavy as are all clamps in that style.

I think Woodcraft has a closeout on Groz parallel
jaw clamps. At the price I’m sure they are
a good value even if they aren’t as refined as
the best parallel jaw clamps.


A lot depends on the type of work you want to
do. Most people getting into woodworking are
probably thinking in terms of building cabinets
(I use screws, nails and staples more than clamps
in making cabinets, except for the doors) and
furniture. With furniture you’re gluing up
panels, which you can do with any sort of bar
clamps, laminating thick stock out of thinner
stock, which generally is a job for shorter bar
clamps or c-clamps, or putting things together
which is a job where pipe clamps offer a lot
of versatility due to length expandability. In
terms of assembling angled work lighter weight
clamps are often helpful. I have a bunch of
“luthier” clamps I bought for building guitars
but they are very useful for putting all sorts
of complicated things together.

View Richard H's profile

Richard H

490 posts in 2561 days

#2 posted 08-16-2014 05:01 PM

My opinion is that your best bet is to acquire clamps as you need them rather than trying to buy a bunch at once based on whats on sale. The downside of this is you often can’t wait for a sale but I think if you just go out and buy a ton of clamps up front without really having a need for them or forcing your purchase decision around sales you will end up not having what you truly need on hand. For example, Lowes was having a closeout sale on Bessy parallel clamps but they only had the 52” ones left. I needed some new clamps when I was glueing up my bench top so I figured I would just get those 52” ones so I had the longer ones around. They work but I find them to long 90% of the time so I end up reaching for the shorter ones first as they tend to really get in the way in my small shop. It’s nice to have a couple long parallel clamps but I ended up with to many of them because they where a “bargain”.

Also don’t forget the lightweight clamps as a option. I have a few Jets that can really be torqued down on (way to much really) but most of the time you don’t need that much clamping pressure. I use my lighter weight clamps including my quick clamps way more than I do those heavy ones.

I keep a mental wish list of new clamps I would like to get and if I see something I want on sale I get it. I don’t base my purchase around what’s on sale so much as can I wait long enough to get the ones I need for a better price.

View BJODay's profile


528 posts in 2824 days

#3 posted 08-17-2014 02:17 AM

I started with pony 3/4” pipe clamps. I would buy a pair every few months. You can have several lengths of pipe for each clamping mechanism, so they are expandable.

Over the past 2 years I have been purchasing Bessey Tradesman F clamps. Again I purchase a pair when I have the cash. I use the F style clamps instead of the pipe clamps, however the pipe clamps have a longer reach.

The cheaper squeeze clamps, (trigger clamps), are handy. They work great for holding parts and dry fitting. I do not use these clamps for glue-ups. They do not have a lot of clamping power.


View Too_Many_Tools's profile


32 posts in 2261 days

#4 posted 08-17-2014 05:49 PM

Thanks for the advice so far.

Normally I would buy clamps as needed but as I said before I have an opportunity to buy a wide variety of clamps at extremely cheap prices NOW….and that opportunity will pass if not taken advantage of.

So…what types of clamps does a mature clamp collection have and how many of each? Quickgrips, bar, parallel, F-style, speciality-style…what’s in your collection?

What sizes of clamps…6”, 12”, 18”, 24”, 36”, 50” and how many..1 to dozens?

When do the REAL sales happen on name brand clamps…since I may defer some of my purchases if it make sense?

What vendors are the best sellers…the big box stores, Amazon, the speciality woodworking sites?

As I said before, I have read many posts on this site and few address these points to my surprise.

Considering a good clamp collection can easily cost thousands of dollars…more than any machine in the shop…and even when purchased used retain their value.

Looking forward to more advice that we all can use…thanks

View endgrainy's profile


251 posts in 2769 days

#5 posted 08-17-2014 07:40 PM

As far as sales, I remember last “Black Friday” Jet parallel clamps were 50% off at amazon. I hope they repeat that sale this year – if so I’m buying.

I have slowly acquired clamps when I needed them, buying a couple at a time. I have 3/4” pipe clamps (2 of each) – 2ft, 4ft, 5ft. I have several f-style clamps of various lengths. I have several of the blue Irwin bar clamps that you squeeze to close.

I find clamps to be pretty utilitarian and don’t really consider mine a collection, more just a necessary part of glue ups. Not that they aren’t required! I agree with above advice – I think buying as you go is reasonable.

-- Follow me on Instagram @endgrainy

View pintodeluxe's profile


6210 posts in 3694 days

#6 posted 08-17-2014 08:59 PM

I would start with some workhorse pipe clamps. They are great all-around clamps, and are excellent for panel glueups. I started with 1/2” Bessey “H” style pipe clamps in 3’ and 4’ lengths.
Then add some parallel clamps in 24” and 40” lengths. My favorite are the Bessey Revos.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View sikrap's profile


1121 posts in 4240 days

#7 posted 08-17-2014 10:37 PM

Personally, I would encourage you to buy the ones you have the shot at. If they are “name brand” such as Bessey, Jet, Jorgenson or Stabilo, you should snatch them up. I’m a big fan of the Bessey cabinet clamps and buy them if I see them at a garage/estate sale for $20 or less. I’m not a big fan of pipe clamps, although I have several. I currently have about 18 of the Bessey cabinet clamps in various lengths, a few dozen “F” style bar clamps by Jorgenson, Irwin and Bessey, and I don’t know how many twin screw, spring and C-clamps. If you can get these and it really is at a “great price”, you can always sell off the ones you don’t want.

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

View redryder's profile


2393 posts in 3983 days

#8 posted 08-17-2014 11:09 PM

Why would anyone go out and buy a boat load of anything and not know if you will need or use it just because it may be a good price??

Since I retired a few years ago, I have not bought anything for the shop unless I am real sure I will use it or need it. Not because I can’t afford it. My shop space is too valuable to have wall hangers that I don’t need.

Loren mentions: A lot depends on the type of work you want to do. Doesn’t is ALL depend on the type of work you are want to do??

Now quit being a lurker and post some projects. Good luck….................

-- mike...............

View Too_Many_Tools's profile


32 posts in 2261 days

#9 posted 08-17-2014 11:29 PM

Why would anyone go out and buy a boat load of anything and not know if you will need or use it just because it may be a good price??

Since I retired a few years ago, I have not bought anything for the shop unless I am real sure I will use it or need it. Not because I can t afford it. My shop space is too valuable to have wall hangers that I don t need.

Loren mentions: A lot depends on the type of work you want to do. Doesn t is ALL depend on the type of work you are want to do??

Now quit being a lurker and post some projects. Good luck….................

- redryder

LOL..the need is there…just didn’t expect to come across an once in a lifetime opportunity to buy like new brand name clamps at fire sale prices…and have a limited window to do it in.

I notice that you don’t mention owning any clamps.

If so what do you own…brands, types and quantity please.


View distrbd's profile


2252 posts in 3327 days

#10 posted 08-18-2014 01:23 AM

I have read a few threads on this topic”the most common size clamps used in a woodworking shop”and it seems F clamps are used often. I suggest you start with 6”(4pcs),12”(8pcs),24” (8pcs)36”( 4pcs),then also buy 4 pipe clamps with 4’ pipe and 24” extensions.

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3852 days

#11 posted 08-18-2014 02:37 AM

I don’t think you can go wrong with most of the good brands like Jet, Bessey, or Jorgensen.
I personally prefer the orange Jorgensen clamps because most of their clamps are still made in the USA.

Note that I omitted Irwin. I recently got some Irwin “F” style clamps on clearance sale at Home Depot. They are pure JUNK. Glad I paid less than 1/2 price, but they were not even worth that.
The Irwin Quik Grip pistol grip type squeeze clamps are okay for dry fitting and non critical clamping.

I tried to buy clamps in sets of four.
My very first clamps were four each of 4” and 6” C-clamps.

Then I added four 3/4” pipe clamps with 48” pipes. Later I added four 24” pipes, then pipe couplers so I could combine different combinations of 24” and 48” pipes if I needed longer clamps.

Next I added four heavy duty 24” bar clamps. Then I got 4 heavy duty 36”, then 48”.

At this point I started to build my workbench. Discovered I needed a lot more short clamps to glue up my legs.
I decided to get four more 6” C-clamps, and to add eight “F” style 12” bar clamps. I got these at Harbor Freight and I think they work pretty well. Not as smooth sliding as the Jorgensens, but adequate and cost effective.

I also found that I needed some real cabinet clamps so I gradually added four each of 36” and 48” Jorgensen Cabinet Masters. They cost around $50 each, but they really help for glue-ups.

Since this initial setup, I added a few more short clamps of various styles and brands, but this set works for me.

I did add a super heavy duty deep reach bar clamp, 12” opening and 12” reach. This was made by Jorgensen and cost about $100, but it can apply 1800 lbs of clamping force to the middle of a 24” wide panel.

I think the only other clamps I still wish I had are some aluminum “F” clamps and some homemade lever clamps for light work.

I collected all these clamps over a 5 year period and I suppose I spent about $700 on them.
Looking back, it might have been wiser to buy one of those bundled sets that sell for around $400, but I’d still have to add the pipe clamps and the deep reach bar clamp to the set.

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

7010 posts in 4075 days

#12 posted 08-18-2014 03:30 AM

Here ya go….This is most of my collection of different clamps…..Might give you something to think about…..Maybe even drool over…...!!!

-- " There's a better way.....find it"...... Thomas Edison.

View Paul's profile


721 posts in 2446 days

#13 posted 08-18-2014 04:49 AM

My very modest collection, almost all of my clamps are harbor freight. Cheap and hold a very modest clamp pressure. highly recommended if your on a budget.

4×24” 4×36” 5×48” bar clamps, those are the main users. I wish I had 4x that amount at times. About 10 f clamps no larger than 24” and a couple pipe clamps etc.


View Too_Many_Tools's profile


32 posts in 2261 days

#14 posted 08-20-2014 05:59 AM

Again thanks for the responses so far.

Anyone else?

Seems like everyone should have an opinion if they own any clamps.

View Too_Many_Tools's profile


32 posts in 2261 days

#15 posted 08-23-2014 02:13 AM


Hard to believe there isn’t more since clamps are high priced used even at auctions.

showing 1 through 15 of 45 replies

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